The Right-Wing New Age

Describing a Salon article by Mitch Horowitz, there is a post over at Matt Cardin’s blog. He offers a summary:

“But the article’s overall topic is much broader, as indicated in the provided editorial teaser: “If you think New Age alternative spirituality is solely the domain of lefty hippies, you don’t know your history.” In just under two thousand words Horowitz discusses such things as the influence of Manly P. Hall on Ronald Reagan, Madame Blavatsky’s promulgation of the idea of “America as the catalyst for a revolution in human potential,” Donald Trump’s association with Norman Vincent Peale, FDR’s decision to put the eye-and-pyramid of the Great Seal of the United States on the dollar bill, Hillary Clinton’s visioneering meetings Jean Houston (who once told Bill Clinton that he was an “undeveloped shaman,” at which point he got up and walked out), and more. Horowitz’s basic point is that none of this represents a conspiracy, notwithstanding the claims of the paranoid conspiracy theorizing crowd”

It doesn’t surprise me. And I can’t say that I worry about the media having “characterized Bannon as the Disraeli of the dark side following his rise to power in the Trump administration.” That said, there might be a connection between Bannon’s attraction to both mysticism and fascism, which could cause one to wonder what kind of New Age he might envision. But the general connection between alternative spirituality and the political right isn’t particularly concerning. As Horowitz explains, that is simply a part of the social fabric of American society and far from being limited to right-wingers.

My conservative parents raised my brothers and I in several liberal New Agey churches, from Christian Science to Unity. It was my paternal grandmother, coming out of a Southern Baptist upbringing, who after she moved to California introduced my parents to New Age spirituality. It helped transition my dad from his earlier doubting agnosticism to his present family values Christianity. Interestingly, my parents now attend a liberal mainstream church, even as they remain strongly conservative. Both of my parents are into positive thinking, my dad being a fan of Norman Vincent Peale.

Religion plays a major role on my dad’s side of the family. My paternal grandfather was a minister who was more spiritual than religious, odd as that might sound. Along with reading my grandmother’s copy of A Course In Miracles, I enjoyed looking at some books my dad had inherited from my grandfather. Among those books, I was introduced to world religions and the likes of the two Krishnamurtis (Jiddu and U.G.).

I could point out that there is a common history to Evangelicalism, New Thought Christianity, and Prosperity Gospel. There are a number of books that cover this and other related history. Theosophy took hold in the US during the late 1800s Populist Era. There was a lot of odd mystical and spiritual thinking that arose in the 1800s, such as the popularity of spiritualism.

There have been many diverse expressions of religion across American history. My paternal great grandfather was an orphan in one of the last surviving Shaker villages, having left when he reached adulthood. Also, there was the Quakers, Deists, Unitarians, Universalists, Anabaptists, Pietists, Camisards, Huguenots, Moravians, Brethren, Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, Amanas, etc. Spiritualism and related practices became popular across religions. The Shakers went through a spiritualism phase, during which much interesting artwork was produced.

Multiple strains of dissenter religion influenced American society, in particular some of the radical thinking during the English Civil War when the first American colonies were taking hold. Roger Williams was a rather interesting religious radical in the early American colonies.

Here are some books that might be of interest, including one from the author of the article:

Occult America by Mitch Horowitz, Religion, Magic, and Science in Early Modern Europe and America by Allison P. Coudert, New Age and Neopagan Religions in America by Sarah Pike, A Republic of Mind and Spirit by Catherine L. Albanese, The New Metaphysicals by Courtney Bender, Ghosts of Futures Past by McGarry Molly, Plato’s Ghost by Cathy Gutierrez, The Occult in Nineteenth-Century America by Cathy Gutierrez, Each Mind a Kingdom by Beryl Satter, The History of New Thought by John S. Haller & Robert C. Fuller, Religious Revolutionaries by Robert C. Fuller, Spiritual, but not Religious by Robert C. Fuller, Restless Souls by Leigh Eric Schmidt, Spirits of Protestantism by Pamela E. Klassen, Secularism in Antebellum America by John Lardas Modern, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912 by Thomas A. Tweed, America’s Communal Utopias by Donald E. Pitzer, and The Kingdom of Matthias by Paul E. Johnson & Sean Wilentz.

On a slightly different note, I would highly recommend The Churching of America by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark. The authors show how, until the 19th century, Americans didn’t have high rates of religiosity such as church attendance. The increasing focus on spirituality was simultaneous with greater concern with mainstream religion.

Another thing that could be added were the Transcendentalists. They had interest in Eastern religious and philosophical thought. Translations of Eastern texts such as the Bhagavad Gita were available in the early 19th century. Henry David Thoreau brought the Bhagavad Gita with him to Walden. See: American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions by Arthur Versluis and The Gita within Walden by Paul Friedrich.

Later in that century, the Theosophical Society translated a large number of Eastern texts. Theosophists came to have much influence during the Populist Era of the 1890s and into the following century. I recall a march on Washington, DC during the 1890s was led by someone influenced by Theosophical thought.

That was a major turning point for American spirituality, fueled by populist revolt and questioning of religious authority. There was a hunger for both new politics and new religion. This was the same historical moment when such things as New Thought Unity Church was organized, specifically 1889. Jackson Lears, in Rebirth of a Nation, describes this era (pp. 237-238):

“Yet the vitalist impulse itself had larger than utilitarian implications. Its significance, like its origin, was religious. It lay at the heart of a broad revolt against positivism, a rejection of a barren universe governed by inexorable laws, where everything was measurable and nothing mysterious. The real problem for many vitalists (and certainly for James) was the specter of a life (and death) without meaning. It is possible to see all the talk about “life” as a way of whistling past the graveyard of traditional Christianity. But the vitalist ferment was also a genuine attempt to explore new meanings for human existence amid the wreckage of collapsing dualities: body and soul, matter and spirit, this world and the next.

“Educated Protestants, dissatisfied with desiccated theology, cast about for vital conceptions of cosmic meaning. Many explored medieval Catholic mysticism as an alternative to the banalities of the typical Sunday sermon, the sort of platitudes uttered by Henry Ward Beecher and other ministers who reduced the Protestant ethic to a mere prescription for worldly success. Buddhism and other Asian religions—discovered, imagined, and synthesized—also began to play a role in focusing popular longings. Vedanta, popularized at the Chicago World’s Fair and after by Swami Vivekenanda, and theosophy, preached by Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant, were both synthetic expressions of spiritual ferment. Paul Carus founded the magazine Open Court to carry forward the work of the World’s Parliament of Religions, begun at the Chicago Fair, to create a common ground of ecumenical discussion, which might lead to a new synthesis—a “Religion of the Future” that might appeal to believer and skeptic alike.

“The results were mixed. Contributors to Open Court asked questions like “What is Life?” and then stumbled about in a soupy haze of abstractions. “The truth is, there are, as there must be, original factors in the world…and life (or chemical activity and appetency) is like gravity, one of them,” William Salter announced in 1901. “If we wish to account for them, we have to go back to the maker of all things (if there is a Maker) not to any of the things that are made.” One thing was certain: “The only salvation for society as for the individual, is from within—it is more life.” The reverence for “life” could overcome death itself. “Who knows but that that greater death which sooner or later overtakes us all…starts energies into play deeper than we had known before—that it is the death of the body, and freedom, new birth, to the soul?’

“The desire for regeneration led to death’s door and beyond. Yearnings for empirical proof of an afterlife and for communication with departed loved ones accelerated the appeal of spiritualism. Here was another example of fascination with invisible force, impossible to see but unmistakable (to believers) in its consequences—tables rising from the floor, sepulchral voices, mysterious music. Even William James was intrigued. While he remained skeptical of sweaty séances in darkened rooms, he joined the American Society for Psychical Research, providing legitimacy to the quest for connection with “discarnate spirits.” His interest in spiritualism reflected his openness to all manner of evidence, no matter how bizarre or apparently inexplicable—his radical empiricism, as he called it.”

By the way, Horowitz’s article reminded me of a passage in What’s the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank. In a brief but insightful observation, Frank explains why right-wingers would find appealing what otherwise seems the New Age babble of hippies (Kindle Locations 1998-2013):

“Today bitter self-made men—and their doppelgängers, the bitter but not quite as well-to-do men—are all over the place. They have their own cable news network and their own TV personalities. They can turn to nearly any station on the AM dial to hear their views confirmed. They have their own e-mail bulletin boards, on which you can find hundreds of thousands of them plen-T-plaining about this outrage and that, from the national to the local. And although they like to fancy themselves rugged individualists (better yet, the last of the rugged individualists), what they really are is a personality type that our society generates so predictably and in such great numbers that they almost constitute a viable market segment all on their own.

“One more thing about the backlash personality type: every single one of the bitter self-made men of my youth was a believer in the power of positive thinking. If you just had a sunny disposish and kept everlastingly at it, they thought, you were bound to succeed. The contradiction between their professed positiveness and their actual negativity about nearly everything never seemed to occur to them. On the contrary; they would oscillate from the one to the other as though the two naturally complemented each other, giving me advice on keeping a positive mental outlook even while raging against the environmentalist bumper stickers on other people’s cars or scoffing at Kansas City’s latest plan for improving its schools. The world’s failure to live up to the impossible promises of the positive-thinking credo did not convince these men of the credo’s impracticality, but rather that the world was in a sad state of decline, that it had forsaken the true and correct path.2 It was as though the fair-play lessons of Jack Armstrong, Frank Merriwell, and the other heroes of their prewar boyhood had congealed quite naturally into the world bitterness of their present-day heroes, Charles Bronson, Dirty Harry, Gordon Liddy, and the tax rebel Howard Jarvis.”

(Note 2. “In The Positive Thinkers, Donald Meyer comments extensively on positive thinking’s understanding of the business civilization and extreme laissez-faire economics as the way of nature. (See in particular chap. 8.) As for its politics, Meyer points out that Norman Vincent Peale, the movement’s greatest celebrity preacher, dabbled in right-wing Republicanism, and a famous positive-thinking Congregationalist church in California embraced the John Birch Society. It is possible that the universal embrace of positive thinking by the bitter self-made men of my youth was a geographic coincidence, since Kansas City is home to one of the great powers of the positive-thinking world, the Unity Church. But I am inclined to think not. Positive thinking is today a nearly universal aspect of liberal Protestantism, traces of it appearing in the speeches of Ronald Reagan and the self-help entertainment of Oprah Winfrey.” [Kindle Locations 4350-4357])

* * * *

Some of the earliest blog posts I ever wrote was a 4 part series. In those earlier writings, I covered all of this in great detail and included much of my personal experience. They came from my old blog, originally posted on the now defunct Gaia website. I apologize for their needing to be cleaned up a bit, as the transferal of posts was done quickly, but they are readable as is.

New Age: Part 1
New Age: Part 2
New Age: Part 3
New Age: Part 4

* * * *

Additional thoughts (5/14/17):

My mother’s all-time favorite preacher is Robert Schuller. He is well known for his having built the Crystal Cathedral, the embodiment of the crass materialism of self-indulgence and cult of personality. Although humbly born and raised in Iowa, he became a mega-church preacher in California and thereby amassed immense wealth.

It’s interesting to learn about how California is the origins of the mega-church movement, along with the modern religious right that took over the GOP. California is also the birthplace of Nixon (infamous Orange County), as Southern California is filled with Southerners. Nixon promoted the Southern strategy and Reagan, a California transplant and professional corporate spokesperson, gave it a voice and a face. I should note that the Southern presence was so influential even in early Californian history that the state was almost split in two during the Civil War.

It was in California that my grandmother, raised Southern Baptist, converted to New Age religion. There is not much distance between the New Right and the New Age. Robert Schuller’s prosperity gospel and ‘old time’ family values easily bridges that distance. It’s why my conservative parents could simultaneously listen to the kindly patriarchal Schuller on television, attend a uber-liberal New Thought church (Unity), and vote for Reagan with his culture war religiosity and Hollywood smile — all part and parcel of the same worldview given its fullest form during the Cold War through the expression of Capitalist Christianity.

I recently learned that a regular guest on Schuller’s televized ministry was Laura Schlessinger, one of the major stars of late 20th century right-wing radio. I remember listening to her when I was still living in South Carolina. It was around the mid 1990s, considering her show was nationally syndicated in 1994 (the year I graduated high school). As the female version of Limbaugh, she was a typical egotist who thought her every ignorant opinion was God-inspired truth. She was a no-nonsense Cold War culture warrior, one of these privileged upper middle class white people who can talk tough because they’ve never dealt with a real problem in their entire life.

One time a caller complained about personal problems and Schlessinger’s advice was that the young woman should either take care of her problems or kill herself. I was shocked that any radio host would be that irresponsible, but that was common for right-wing talk radio. There is a heartlessness to this attitude. I can guarantee you that if this person had killed herself, a sociopathic social Darwinian like Schlessinger would have been happy that there was one less ‘loser’ in the world.

Now consider this mean-spirited asshole was a close personal friend of Robert Schuller, having said of her that she is “A positive voice for positive values without equal in our time.” Despite Schuller’s kind and friendly demeanor, there was a dark cancerous rot at the heart of his prosperity gospel. In the end, prosperity gospel was simply yet more rhetoric upholding the plutocracy and defending inequality. It was a worship of Mammon, in place of God.

This kind of prosperity gospel didn’t die with Schuller. It is still going strong. The mega-church movement has become more popular than ever and, with big money, it is a major political player with impressive clout. Some of Trump’s most outspoken and influential supporters were prosperity gospel preachers, such as Paula White and Joel Osteen (along with many others). This is nothing new. Going back decades, some truly hateful and demented religious leaders have openly supported and socialized with Republican politicians and even presidents. Some of these religious right leaders said things far worse than Trump and associates have dared to say and there was no backlash. Republicans have been courting rabidly reactionary radicalism for a long time.

This is not old time religion, in the traditional European sense. But America has always had weird strains of religiosity and spirituality, a hybrid spawn of Protestant Reformation and Counter-Enlightenment. The descendants of this match made in hell were suckled at the teat of American materialism with its dark history of oppression and inequality. Then driven mad through the delusional fear-mongering of generations of propaganda, from Cold War to War on Terror.

If one were feeling particularly cynical, it could be argued that Trump represents the final endpoint and highest expression of American Christianity. But that would be too dismissive toward the religious diversity that has always existed in North America, even if the ugliest expressions of religiosity too often have dominated. It should not be forgotten that the United States also has a history of radical left-wing religiosity as well. The hard-hitting Christian attitude eloquently put forth by the likes of Martin Luther King jr is alive and well, no matter how much corporate media hacks and corporatist politicians ignore it.

There is another point that should be made clear. The religious right mentality isn’t limited to the religious right, for the simple reason that the religious right itself in America is the product of post-Enlightenment liberalism. The American right in general has long been in love with the rhetoric of liberalism with its focus, however superficial, on liberty and freedom in terms of not just of religion but also of states rights, free markets, hyper-individuality, meritocracy, private ownership, gun rights, civil libertarianism, and on and on. So, in direct connection to this, it’s unsurprising to realize the extent to which liberals, specifically of the liberal class, have embraced right-wing ideology as great defenders of capitalist realism that supposedly liberates and empowers even as it harms and scapegoats so many.

Having been raised in the extreme liberalism of New Thought Christianity, this understanding developed in my direct personal experience. What Barbara Ehrenreich describes in her book Bright-sided is what I absorbed form childhood. And it really does fuck with your head. Ehrenreich criticizes a type of cruel optimism popular in America that is superficial and too often used to rationalize egregiously immoral or otherwise dysfunctional behavior. In my experience, positive thinking just made me feel worse, as if my depression was a sign of personal failure.

The expectation of positive thinking can be a heavy burden to carry. This is much worse when dealing with serious issues involving conditions of poverty and inequality, oppression and injustice, pain and suffering, desperation and struggle. According to prosperity gospel, all problems are to be blamed on individuals. It’s the punishment of having a wrong relationship with God, a carryover from the bleak predestination of Calvinism that involves a God who favors an elect of individuals and damns everyone else. But in prosperity gospel, God’s elect are made clear as his favors are seen in this world through material gifts and blessings, i.e., wealth.

I went into some detail about this in a previous post:

The inspiration for her writing about positive thinking was her experience with cancer. She saw the darkside of positive thinking within the cancer community.

This brings to mind my own grandmother who died of cancer. It’s because of her that I was raised in New Thought Christianity where positive thinking is very popular. She was diagnosed with cancer. She embraced the whole alternative medicine field and she had great faith in positive thinking. My dad says she was utterly crushed when doing all the right things didn’t make her cancer go away. She died of cancer. She was a woman who had a great sense of faith, and apparently I inherited my spiritual interests from her. I’ve seen all aspects of positive thinking and so I have a personal sense of what Ehrenreich is talking about.

But what is different is that positive thinking has become mainstream like never before. It’s not just alternative types. Positive thinking has become merged with the early American ideals of meritocracy, and together they create something greater than either alone.

In one video I saw of Ehrenreich, she made an interesting connection. She was talking about the meritocracy ideal, but I don’t think she was using that term. She was just talking about the ideal of positivie thinking in general within American culture. She connected this with Ayn Rand’s libertarians. If I remember correctly, she was making the argument that Rand was a one of the factors in popularizing positive thinking. She mentioned the book The Secret and how it’s representative of our whole culture. She blames the economic troubles we’re having now with the business culture of positive thinking, and it makes a lot of sense to me.

Also see two other videos:

Barbara Ehrenreich: “Bright Sided: How Positive Thinking Undermines America”

‘Smile or Die” How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World

132 thoughts on “The Right-Wing New Age

    • The alt-right is real. But it isn’t exactly a movement in the way that article is attempting to portray. Anyway, this part was plain stupid and ignorant:

      “7.(By the way, the left wants to blow things up too.)
      Dissatisfaction with the Establishment doesn’t always force people rightward. The surprisingly successful candidacies of old-school lefties like Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are evidence of an active contemporary “alt-left”: “alt” as in alternative to the corporate-friendly liberalism of the diminishing center-left (see surging membership in Democratic Socialists of America), “alt” as in irony-fluent, and meme-adept (see the dirtbag-left podcast Chapo Trap House), and “alt” as in dismissive of, if not abjectly cruel toward, any identity politics that doesn’t place class at the center. The alt-left hates nothing more than being called the alt-left.”

    • Sailer wasn’t right. It’s simply that the Democrats are pathetic. We don’t need a theory to explain that Clinton was a horrible candidate and her campaign a tragedy of fools.

      The only way Sailer’s political strategy would work for the GOP is if the last traces of democracy are destroyed. Such a strategy certainly isn’t going to win by gaining more support. But it could work by disenfranchising voters and further rigging the entire political system. The ruling elite don’t need to worry about demographic shifts if they can create a fully controlled banana republic.

      Of course, with the help of Democrats, that is a real possibility. It appears the Democratic establishment also wants a banana republic. So, working together, the party duopoly should be able to achieve this dream of ultimate authoritarian power, as long as they are willing to use fear-mongering or maybe even brutal violence to keep the masses in order.

      That is a genuine political strategy. But obviously an article like this isn’t going to discuss it.

  1. “Based on the interviews I’ve been doing, members of the alt-right are definitely higher educated [than most Trump voters]. It is a movement that is pretty technologically literate, so it is qualitatively different from the KKK of a generation ago. What some have speculated about, actually within the alt-right itself, is that one of the causes for its growth is that there is a growing number of very skilled and rather talented people who are not of the social status that one might anticipate given their levels of education. So they’re very well trained, very well educated, and they have a lot of time on their hands. So it’s maybe a lot of people who got good STEM degrees and ended up moving back in with their parents. One of the key ways to destroy a budding radical is to make him or her firmly ensconced in the bourgeoisie. Once you are dealing with mortgage payments, you’re not spending time on the internet trying to foment revolution anymore. Part of the problem is this large population that has time and has skills, and it’s angry. There are people who are quite bitter about their experiences and the alt-right tells them that they have answers for them.”

    “The alt-right is not as large as it’s able to appear online. My general argument is that around 2015 or so, what the alt-right did and did very successfully, was through social media, especially Twitter, they created this sort of Potemkin village that they would put up in front of opinion leaders, especially journalists, so that every time they fired up their computer they would see a constant barrage of white-nationalist, anti-Semitic remarks, giving the impression that there was this massive online Nazi army that was taking over the internet. Particularly anti-Trump journalists, particularly Jewish journalists, and particularly if you were a conservative anti-Trump Jewish journalist, if you were to go online, someone from the alt-right was probably there to troll you. I don’t want to say the trolling of the alt-right was super-coordinated, but there were certain personalities that were very likely to be targeted by anonymous alt-right folks on social media. And starting around 2015 you began to see these big stories about this new scary movement called the alt-right, and in a way it sort of became this self-fulfilling prophecy. I think the real change especially occurred about Hillary gave her Reno speech in which she denounced the alt-right. Which, at that point, I think the growth of the movement really sped up. Which is not to say that she necessarily made a mistake, but the alt-right viewed it as a major victory to be brought into the national conversation that way.”

    • It’s not as if the KKK of a generation ago or several generations ago was ever technologically illiterate. They tended to recruit from the middle class, often including respectable professionals. Surely, they were well informed about using whatever technology was available and had access to such technology: printing presses, radio stations, local tv/cable shows, etc. The KKK was at one time a highly organized operation, organized at both the local and national levels.

      The alt-right is no better at trolling than lots of other kinds of malcontents, ideologues, and what have you. They have various ideologies, agendas, motivations, and tactics. Some of them do it as a hobby and others are paid. Some are lone trolls and others are part of organized efforts. One of my most irritating and persistent trolls on this blog was a queer leftist from Australia or something like that, although it’s hard to differentiate between a genuine troll and simply an unhappy person with a mental illness or personal issues.

      It’s not as if it is all that difficult to be a troll. I sometimes feel like have the internet is trolls and the troll-like.

    • One person wrote this:

      “Individualism/Libertarianism are to a large degree Anglo-Saxan ideals.
      We simply speak of it generally as White because American White is largely Anglo-Saxan.”

      That is absolutely wrong. The Anglo-Saxons, along with the Scandinavians in the English Midlands, were highly tribalistic and community-oriented. Liberty/libertarianism has a Latin etymology and was introduced by the Normans. The culture and history of regions of England are different depending on where Normans settled in the greatest concentration.

      I was just discussing this with a friend. It’s not a race thing but a class thing. Poor whites aren’t particularly individualistic. And rich whites aren’t particularly individualistic. Both the rich and poor tend to have large, well established social networks. It’s the middle class that prides itself on individualism as part of the propaganda sold to them about the American Dream.

      The rich and poor, on the other hand, know that such propaganda is bullshit. The rich don’t stay rich and the poor don’t stay poor because of individuality.

    • There isn’t anything new about the “new right” nor anything alternative about the “alt-right”. It’s just plain old right-wing politics fueled by some combination of reaction and authoritarianism, fear and bigotry. If you know history, most of the rhetoric and behavior has been around a long time. It’s just that during more peaceful and prosperous times these people are ignored by the media.

    • There is something people don’t understand. Social control and propaganda has become so much more highly developed over the decades. In recent years, there probably have been trillions of dollars invested in social engineering, perception control, public relations, advertising, etc. It’s a well researched field of science.

    • What is interesting is that the divide isn’t clearly partisan.

      About a third of Republicans agree with the political left on major issues. That is no small part. Put that in context. The majority of self-identified ‘conservatives’ espouse a wide spectrum of liberal views.

      So, it isn’t that those third of Republicans are self-identified liberals. They are conservative Republican voters who are more liberal than many supposedly liberal Democratic politicians. Now there is an interesting divide.

    • That is something rarely acknowledged much less discussed by most Americans, right or left. It seems to have be another set of facts that have fallen into our collective historical amnesia. You sure don’t hear about it during campaign seasons.

  2. Many of the radical black and Native American movements and such didn’t/don’t even see the USA government as legitaMate

    • I’m probably being naive but I’m not sure I see a full blown pan-white nationalist movement if only because white people themselves are so divided by region and culture and even ethnicity to an extent

      Shit the entire cultural war BS is red and blue whites shit slinging for I dunno what

    • “authentic whites” — That is amusing. Anyone who isn’t 100% WASP or closely related ethnicities isn’t white. Spanish and Portuguese or at least Hispanics aren’t white. Southern Europeans in general are probably suspect, along with Eastern Europeans.

      If we are going by colonial standards, the Irish also aren’t fully authentic in their whiteness. Plus, it’s questionable if the several percentage of ‘white’ Southerners with non-European (often African) ancestry should be considered “authentic whites”.

      The white movement is going to have to require genetic purity tests with certification similar to purebred dogs.

    • There was the winner of the University of Texas’ “Miss Black University”. Being biracial, some didn’t consider her to be black enough. She said that her entire life people have thought that she was Hispanic or something. What will happen in the future when there are so many biracial people that there is no clear distinction between a dark-skinned white and a light-skinned non-white?

    • The human brain fires differently when dealing with people outside of one’s own race, ethnicity, nationality, linguistic group, religion, family, neighborhood, community, school, peer group, workplace, class, gender, etc. Basically, relating to anyone who is different in almost any way, specifically in terms of social groups and categories, can be seen in brain scans and various measures. Really!?! I’m shocked.

    • A lack of shared ethnicity, language, religion, culture, etc didn’t stop most immigrants for most of American history. What most Americans share is simply that we descend from immigrants and that we are citizens of the same federal government. That is nothing new. If sharing everything is a necessary for a successful society, then America was a failure right from the beginning. America has always been diverse. To change that would mean destroy the present country and create an entirely different country.

    • No one will revolt against globalization. The reason for that is that globalization is an abstraction. People revolt against what is concretely and personally real in their everyday lives.

      The American Revolution wasn’t against the British Empire’s globalization. Rather, it was against the imperial policies in the colonies. The American colonists were mostly indifferent to the British Empire in the larger world, just as long as it left them alone to govern themselves.

    • He really is no different than most other ‘conservatives’. What he is ‘conserving’ is a fantasy. That has always been the basis of mainstream ‘conservatism’ in the US. I’m not sure why he thinks that makes him special.

    • One reviewer wrote that, ” On egalitarianism, he similarly conflates material equality with hierarchical or political dominance. Again, I am not sure why.” That would be my response as well.

      The anthropological record proves that material inequality is not a universal trait of all societies. This kind of inequality only became common with settled agricultural societies. In tribal societies, there were other forms of inequality such as knowledge, but even there it didn’t necessarily follow simple hierarchical orders.

      The Australian Aborigines have different groups that would have different sets of knowledge. Mainly, authority would be based on age because of those who had accumulated the most knowledge over time. Then again, the Piraha didn’t even have inequality in terms of knowledge, since all Piraha basically had the same set of knowledge, although they did have differences in gender roles, not that men had any more authoritative roles than women.

      Since it appears the author’s hypothesis is false, I’m not particularly interested in reading the argument he presents in his book. I always find this kind of thing odd. Didn’t the author carefully look at the anthropological record before coming to a conclusion? Or is there more subtlety and insight to his argument than is apparent from the reviews?

    • Old conflicts and old narratives tend to persist, even long after they seem to have disappeared. Cultural memories have a way of being resurrected and becoming relevant again. For example, you can still see the bad feelings between many American Northerners and Southerners to this day, despite the populations hardly being the same all this time later.

    • That is what I dislike. Will bigotry end by ensuring that equal numbers of people of all gender identities, races, ethnicities, religions, languages, etc are represented within and harmed by our oppressive system?

    • From the second article:

      “America’s newest generation is more racially progressive than its predecessors’. […] However, such pervasive sentiments do not reflect reality. In fact, beneath the facade of a colorblind generation remains a deep underclass. And millennials are not as racially progressive as the narrative suggests.”

      Am I supposed to be surprised by this? Large-scale change to centuries old problems happens slowly. Yet it does happen, even if we’d prefer to speed up the process.

      “White millennials appear to be no less prejudiced than the rest of the white population, at least using this data set and this measure of prejudice,”

      This seems to miss a major point. The change that happens isn’t merely across generations. I doubt they would find “the rest of the white population” as racist as they were 50 or 100 years ago.

      The point is that the entire population is shifting in its views. Talking to my dad, I know that he is much more aware of racism in his old age than he was when younger. The casual, overt bigotry of the sundown town he grew up in would shock him today.

      The comparison that needs to be made isn’t to the older generations today but to the older generations when they were the same age as Millennials are now. That is the only generational comparison that would be ultimately meaningful.

      “White millennials are more optimistic about the state of race relations. For example, a 2014 Pew survey found that 42 percent of white millennials said “a lot” needs to be done to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of racial equity, compared with 54 percent of millennials of color. One-fifth of white millennials said “a little/none at all” needs to be done.”

      That seems a misleading way of stating it. To be more accurate, it should say that white millennials are less pessimistic about the state of race relations, compared to non-white millennials but probably not compared to older generations of whites when they were younger.

      As it points out here, it’s only a small minority of white millennials that is actually optimistic about the state of race relations. That means that four-fifths (i.e., 80%) of white millennials disagreed with there being “a little/none at all” that needs to be done. Would you have found 80% of younger whites saying the same thing earlier last century? Of course not.

      That is no small proportion, 80%. More white millennials believe racism is a problem than Americans overall believe in evolution and climate change. Some perspective is needed here. We are working with a population that has been poorly educated and heavily indoctrinated into a severely fucked-up social order and political system.

      “These gaps remain unchanged across generations. All in all, when the Pew data are disaggregated, they shows large and persistent racial gaps that are obscured when the generations are considered as a whole.”

      That is either a dishonest or ignorant statement. It simply is not true, at least it can’t be claimed to be true based on the present data. There is no evidence that racism is as bad today as it was during the time of slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow, and sundown towns. Sure, it’s still bad. But let’s not lie about it. If we are going to deal with this problem, we have to begin with clear-eyed honesty.

      “younger cohorts of whites are no more racially liberal in 2008 than they were in 1988.”

      That is a little more interesting, but it still lacks context. That is talking about my generation. I know the world of 1988, a time when casual bigotry was still common. It seems highly unlikely that racial liberalism meant the same thing back then as it does today. The meaning of such things may have changed so much as to make comparisons difficult or impossible.

      Besides, the generalizations made in this article isn’t simply between millennials and gen-xers. It is making claims about the entire population going of still living generations. How racially liberal were young whites in 1968, 1948, 1928, and 1908? Is the author attempting to argue that young whites are as racist today as were those who grew up to join the Second Klan?

      “That is, while young white Americans are clearly aware of interpersonal racism, they seem unwilling to address structural or implicit biases. It may be that racial progress will occur simply because there are fewer young whites relative to people of color.”

      Since minorities and mixed-race marriages are increasing and becoming more acceptable with each generation, that means racism will continue to decrease. Consider a white and non-white parent who have a mixed-race child. According to the data, that mixed race child will be less racist than their white parent. The data even indicates that the white parent will also become less racist as they grow older. That is assuming that the trends continue and there is no reason to assume they won’t continue.

      “Another hopeful development is that Americans, across all ages, are less racially biased than before.”

      Why did they wait to the end of the article to admit the most important point of the entire issue? The point is racism is decreasing for everyone, not just a single generation. Yet they spun the entire article as if this were somehow bad that lessening racism was limited to just the younger generation.

      I noticed a commenter made a correction:

      “In the statement “A 2012 Public Religion Institute poll found that 58 percent of white millennials say discrimination affects whites as much as it affects people of color” you misquote the cited study. The correct percentage is 48, not 58. See page 43.”

      So, it’s slightly less than half. I bet if you asked the same question a century earlier in 1912 the results would have been an overwhelming majority. The fact that this is becoming a minority view, as the data shows, should be seen as a positive sign. Give it another century and it will likely be a tiny minority. Change happens slowly, but the fact of the matter is it happens.

      The other thing that gets left out is the reality of the situation. This data is just about perception. But for most whites, as with most non-whites, the world is not clearly becoming a better place. In fact, certain segments of whites are experiencing worsening problems in a way not seen among non-whites.

      Might it be possible that real world problems are influencing perceptions of the real world? Would we be allowed to say racism is defeated if all Americans, white and non-white, had equally shitty lives? Is the goal to achieve equality by bringing most whites down or by raising most non-whites up?

      Those are serious questions because at the moment the new permanent underclass that is forming includes a large part of the white population. Despite all the racial disparities, whites remain the largest proportion of the poor, the police brutalized, and the imprisoned. Telling these oppressed whites that they are privileged is neither compassionate nor helpful. It doesn’t match their personal experience.

      The best way to deal with the race problem would be to deal with the economic problem. Where there is vast economic inequalities and entrenched economic segregation, there is going to be endless divisiveness and conflict. That is what the research shows. Either we want to deal with this problem in a realistic way or not.

      I was curious about the author. He does seem like a genuine leftist progressive. Some articles he has written are critical of increasing plutocracy and supportive of Sanders. But what is interesting is that none of the articles I noticed connected economic and social issues. How do racial attitudes chart against economic changes? And how do racial attitudes look across class divides?

      This seems quite important, considering most whites aren’t part of the wealthy ruling elite. For the majority of whites who are lower class and nearly powerless in our political system, what significance does any of the polling mean? It’s not as if politicians are acting according to public opinion, as the author makes clear in an article about plutocracy. The plutocrats only care about the interests of plutocrats.

    • The basic observation seems predictable.

      Social conditions can change not only attitudes and perceptions but also how people express and act on those attitudes and perceptions. It does make one wonder what the same study would look like done now with Trump’s openly blatant bigotry and xenophobia.

      Also, as always, I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns. This is talking about averages. But the data likely shows various demographics, even within the white population, to be moving in opposite directions.


    In 2016 populism burst upon liberal democracies like a whirlwind. Yet, since Trump’s election in November of last year the storm appears to have passed. There was the defeat of the far right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer in Austria (of all places) in December of last year followed by the loss of the boldly pompadoured (which seems to be a thing now on the right) Geert Wilders in parliamentary elections in the Netherlands a few months back, followed by the seeming victory of the Kutcher faction over the Bannon faction in the Trump administration, and now, the loss of Le Pen in France. Whew- glad that’s over.

    Of course, it’s not over, for it leaves us with the same unaddressed problems that gave rise to popular discontent in the first place. The one and only danger of the populist fever peaking too soon is that it will feed the very complacency among elites that gave us this wave of destructive popular anger in the first place. The fever will just come back, and perhaps next time in a form much worse should manage to sweep 2016’s craziness under the rug.

    As of yet this wave of anger, despite its ugliness or the views of its more vicious fans, hasn’t been so much fascists as populists. This distinction, as distinctions often are, is important.

    • In reading stuff like that, I just have to laugh. It’s like listening to young boys having a discussion about sex based on one kid finding his dad’s hidden stash of porn magazines. The alt-right really is the porn equivalent of sociopolitical ideology. It’s purpose is to shock and titillate.

  4. This is sad. The citizens of other Western countries are facing the same bad choices offered by the ruling elite. It’s lesser evilism that endlessly promotes evil across the board and guarantees evil continues to rule the world. I just don’t get the argument that these ‘liberal’ politicians who support the oppression, terrorizing, imprisonment, impoverishment, and killing of millions of people are the lesser evil.

    Hillary Clinton may have lost in America but she won in France. If the Russians were able to determine the American vote: why the hell weren’t they able to fix the vote in a third rate country like France? Maybe Russia isn’t the evil genius it’s made out to be in the West. Maybe it’s just the West.

    We’re supposed to be happy that the neofascist lost. We’re supposed to be over the moon that the Euro and the European Union is feeling stronger today. We’re supposed to be dancing in the streets because liberal democracy is the king of France. But apart from the 1% and their market mad media no one else is euphoric. The victory of liberalism in Paris feels like a defeat.

    • Yeah, a troll. But one still wonders to what extent trolls like this take their own rhetoric seriously. The earliest diverse civil societies actually weren’t in Europe.

      Ancient China that created the first example of a modern-like civil society had civil servants who gained their position through tested merit rather than tribalism, nepotism, and cronyism. This was necessary because ancient China was a highly diverse place with hundreds of diverse ethnic traditions with vast religious and linguistic differences. The civil government had to be able to transcend and unite those differences. And China did all of this when Europe was still wallowing in obscurity.

      Western liberalism has many of its earliest origins far outside of Western Europe. In many societies across the world and going back millennia, there have been various thinkers, visionaries and leaders proposing ideals along the lines of freedom, liberty, equality, justice, fairness, etc. But they’ve taken different forms according to local conditions. The point is that none of this is exclusively owned by Western civilization.

  5. There are contemporary Confucian academics who are seeking to harmonize the Analects with modernity, with liberal democracy. Perhaps you are better suited for the school founded by Han Feizi.

    • That is the amusing part. These same arguments were once made by local cultures against nationalism.

      Early American advocates of states’ rights were actually arguing against Federalist nationalism. It’s why, during the American Civil War, the two sides saw themselves as separate ethnic cultures based on the collective memory of separate ethnic cultures that earlier led to the English Civil War

      It’s the same basic reason the Irish, Welsh, and Scottish fought the English. And before that, it is why the Celtic Britons, Midland Scandinavians, and East Anglia Anglo Saxons fought the Romans and Normans.

      That is because regional culture based on different ethnicities was seen as more important than some ideal of national assimilation. Race was invented to destroy tribalism and promote nationalism, the two being in opposition.

      The historical ignorance of a video like this shocks me.

    • I would disagree with a particular aspect. Only part of academia is to the political left.

      Many fields are dominated by conservatives and mainstream thinkers: business management, economics, engineering, hard sciences, etc. And these other fields are those that get most of the money and are among the most popular fields for students because that is where the money is at.

      Even in the humanities and social sciences, you will rarely meet a radical left-winger. They are mostly moderate liberals. They aren’t likely as far left as the average American on issues of economics, healthcare, etc. People who have spent too much time in academia get a distorted notion of what is to the ‘left’ on the political spectrum, as they have no fucking clue how left is the general public who never steps foot in academia.

    • This was a fairly good video. He is correct about Trump voters. But he gets wrong what happened to Democrats, at least on one issue. He makes the standard mainstream claim that Sanders failed to win minority support.

      The reality is that Sanders was favored by young minorities and probably poor minorities. Certainly, Clinton lost minority votes like hasn’t been seen among Democratic presidential candidates in a long time. She obviously was not the minority-preferred candidate.

    • Also:

      Swamp Cleaner5 months ago
      +ContraPoints Bernie didn’t win because the Dnc was actively working against him and working for the Clinton campaign. Also shitty laws like the ones in New York State suppressed independent voters during the primary. You should do a whole video on it after you research all of it because you sound quite uneducated in the matter. I usually like your content but come the fuck on if you think Hillary legitimately won the primary.

    • That is a good article. Much of it fits with my own views. Turchin’s ethnogenesis is what makes tribalism so vastly different from nationalism, so different as to be in opposition in that the former is destroyed in creating the latter. I’ve often noted that, “There wasn’t a cohesive “Russian” ethnicity before conflict against the Tatars. There was no “German” people before the Romans invaded.”

      There is something odd about traditional tribalism. It’s foreign to the modern mind. Those on the political right like to fantasize about tribalism, but they don’t have a fucking clue what they are talking about.

      Many tribes weren’t overly concerned with ancestral lineage, at least not in how we think about it. They had no concepts of race or understanding of genetics. Tribal people under non-stressful conditions weren’t concerned with purity, which according to Haidt is one of the key concerns of modern conservatives. It was common for tribes to assimilate foreign people. What created the tribal bond was the culture itself.

      Also, tribal people had very different notions of group and individual. I’m thinking of the Piraha, a society with extremely loose bonds that resemble what we moderns would describe as anarchism. They are one of the tribal groups that had assimilated other tribes and weren’t aggressive toward foreigners. They also lacked any kind of hierarchy and authority. Cultural identity is the only thing that holds their tribe together.

      A Piraha’s identity is dependent on their relationships with other Piraha, but there is no one to tell a Piraha how to be a Piraha, although on rare occasions banishment happens. The only incident of Piraha banishment I heard about, though, involved a Piraha boy who killed a non-Piraha boy.

      They banished him for harming a foreigner, placing the life of the foreigner above the life of the Piraha boy. That is exactly what modern conservatives complain about modern liberals. As with modern liberals, non-violence even to strangers is a key aspect of the cultural identity for the Piraha. So, oddly, even harming someone who isn’t Piraha in a sense proves that someone isn’t Piraha because harming people isn’t what Piraha do. Piraha are defined by what they do, not by some abstract idealized essence.

      I might disagree a bit with one aspect of this article. Or rather I’d add some further nuance.

      Native Americans didn’t influence early European-Americans solely through violence. Their social and political systems helped inspire radical thought. Native Americans proved certain kinds of societies could exist that centuries of European thinkers declared was impossible. This radicalized American thought, including notions of decentralized power and divided governance.

      For example, Roger Williams is the first major Anglo-American defender of religious and social freedom. He was directly influenced by the Native Americans he befriended and lived among. He assimilated their tolerant attitudes and came to identify with them in opposition to the intolerance of the Puritans.

      I’d put great emphasis on the influence of the Shawnee. They are another tribal group that had a loose identity defined by a broad cultural worldview. Many early Americans were adopted into Shawnee families, including Daniel Boone who maintained his Shawnee identity and his Shawnee family connections for the rest of his life. Shawnee culture became one of the models for American culture, demonstrating a different way for culture to be maintained through assimilation. Shawnee culture was defined by assimilation.

      The region of the United States where Shawnee dominated is an area that has the largest concentration of US citizens who simply identify as ‘American’ when asked about their ethnicity/ancestry. Anglo-Americans have often been obsessed with their English ancestry, but this former Shawnee territory is not a major location of early Anglo-American settlement. It is the Upper South and Lower Midwest that was and is mostly a mix of Scots-Irish and German ancestry.

    • What irritates me the most is simply the lack of knowledge. And what knowledge he does have is severely constrained by dogmatic ideology. But I don’t find it any more nor less irritating because of his apparently being a minority, even if that makes it a bit more pathetic.

  6. “And I am really tired of the insults toward white men like one I saw recently, some lefty student talking disparagingly about the “stale white male.” Wow, I thought, and said, sexism, racism and ageism in one feel swoop! But no… the lady kindly explained that in the case of white males, the insults are justified, and therefore neither racist, sexist, or ageist. Holy crap! It aint racism when it suits me, ey? How very clever… not.

    And then there is the sense that the elites are working hard, both here and in Europe, to create more and more division and bad feelings. Paying people to travel to wherever to stir up trouble, rioting and hate. Lying to us all the time, so that everybody is constantly reeling from the onslaught of propaganda, not knowing if anyone’s left to trust. And flooding the country with uncontrolled immigration. The old quota system, put into place so that America could stabilize, breathe a sigh of relief and restore prosperity during hard times, was dismantled in ’65. Is it any wonder that the middle class began its stagnation in the 70s? And creating engineered chaos seems to be another way to get us all fighting with one another.

    I am more aware of my whiteness than I ever was in my life, and the changes that are happening in the world in this respect. Like the murder, rape and dispossession of whites in South Africa. Or just taking their farms and throwing them out, in some other places. Some elderly white farmers thrown out of Africa were recently denied asylum in Oz… not politically correct enough apparently, as refugees. Weird shit, folks.

    And the tendency to vilify Trump supporters is another thing that galls. Look, we have two losers out there, which should unify us in disgust. But the unemployed formerly white middle class that supports him is apparently “deplorable.” I used to think, racism is mostly a thing of the past. Not cured, but much much better. Instead, we have a resurgence. Really, I hate the direction America is heading.”

    • In what way does feeling like an oppressed white give any genuine meaning to a person’s life? I can identify with people in my family, in my city, in my state, in my region, and in my country. These are people with whom I share concrete experience and historical realities. But to be honest it is incomprehensible to me the suggestion that I should identify with some vague global whiteness, especially to the point of being willing to fight and die defending it. That is plain bizarre.

  7. There is something of a worrying tendency in groups that were previously oppressed to turn on the next group to become oppressed.

    • That is one of the saddest things in the world. I fear that Israeli Apartheid will be remembered by future generations as one of the most morally depraved examples of hypocrisy in history. If any population in the world should be able to identify with the xenophobic oppression and ghettoization of Semitic Palestinians (Jews who in the past were forced to convert to Islam), it should be the Semitic Israelis in their having formed their own state following the Holocaust (Jews who at times in the past were forced to convert to Christianity or else suffer the consequences).

    • That is one of the more bizarre things I’ve seen online in a while. It’s complete fantasy. It’s like overhearing a roleplaying game.

      “I rolled a 7. That means my Aryan superpower defeats the minority monster.”
      “But there is an invasion of Mexican dwarves. You lose 20 points in the battle and are forced to retreat to the Amerikaner stronghold.”

    • What will really make the racist whites freak out, especially those in the older generation, is when large proportions of Hispanics (and racially/ethnically mixed people) increasingly identify as white. That will be amusing to watch.

      Then there will be different groups of self-identified whites arguing over their whiteness. There might be a corresponding increase of white-on-white violence caused by conflicts over who is white enough. Whiteness will splinter into separate categories or simply become ever more meaningless and irrelevant. Whites will likely further disaggregate along lines of socioeconomic class.

      That is one possibility.

    • It’s a bizarre claim to equate all masculinity with violent conflict, aggression, and intolerance. If he is an anthropologist, he must get laughed at on a regular basis by other anthropologists. I’d like to see him present that as a paper at an anthropology conference and submit it to a major anthropology journal, if he dares. Then we could see how masculine he is, in standing up to the mockery that would follow.

  8. Agree that modern society can be tough on males. Disagree that the problem is women’s rights or that the solution is to be more patriarchal. And even Scandinavia is still overall patriarchal, hardly matriarchal. The proud masculine Vikings he writes about we’re also relatively egalitarian in terms of status of women. The creed in short, reads too much like a typical alt right essay

    • Modern notions of patriarchy are no more traditional in the ancient tribal sense than modern notions of race and nationalism. If a modern neoreactionary guy was sent back in time and tried to explain to a Viking woman about her proper gender role, she would probably beat him to a pulp and show him what his masculinity is worth.

    • Straight up idiotic as well.

      This kind of thing comes off as more like someone telling a fantasy story than it sounds like someone making a reasonable argument. It’s not as if presenting him with other data, evidence, and criticisms would change his views. It would be as pointless as trying to argue history with a religious apologist, something I’ve attempted to do on a number of occasions.

      All you can do is note that he is very attached to his belief system and that it gives him a sense of identity, meaning, and purpose. But there is no particular reason for anyone else to give a damn about the stories he likes to tell, accept other people who already agree with him.

      Whatever it is he is trying to sell, it has little if anything to do with anthropology.

    • Whether or not they started the movement, they sure are working hard to end it. With Trump as their pathetic leader, the alt-right is going down in flames and will be an embarrassment for the foreseeable future. Not that alt-righters have any shame to feel embarrassment.

  9. It’s sad when the 35+ generation is more progressive and open-minded than the younger generation. You have freaking high schoolers worship Pinochet and Mussolini and talk about white genocide while dreaming of their submissive Asian q t 3.14. Our generation is lost.
    I’ve been going on 4chan for years and it makes me depressed and pessimistic because 4chan racism was ironic and sarcastic and not legit neo-Nazi racism. Now, every board there is racist as hell. You can go on the Pokemon board and see WN shit.
    permalinkembedsavereportgive goldreply
    [–]EurasianTigerHolocaust denying aspie dad / mentally ill HK mom 2 points 9 hours ago
    It is mind blowing how an entire generation was so easily swayed. They’re predators. WNs like Taylor and Spencer are truly evil men.

    • I’m not sure it’s any worse than it has ever been. It was just easier to ignore in the past. The younger generation simply has more access to getting their voices heard through the internet. There are more younger people promoting positive views as well, but the minority of trolls, bigots, and mentally ill get most of the attention.

      The difference in the past when older generations was younger is that there was no internet and so internet trolls didn’t exist while the average bigot and mentally ill person was less often heard. But their having been more ignored didn’t mean they were any less worse in the past. Our political system has been dominated by fucked up people for a very long time.

    • That frustrates me to no end.

      Even with the growing population of minorities, whites are still the majority of poor people, still the largest proportion of the oppressed underclass targeted by militarized police and mass incarceration, still with the highest per capita of welfare recipients, and still with the highest rates of drug use and addiction (not to mention highest rates of carrying and selling illegal drugs).

      All of that has always been true. It’s bizarre that all of a sudden people think there is a white poverty problem and a white drug problem, as if this situation hasn’t existed for generations.

    • Such idiocy knows no bounds. It’s endless bullshit. Immigrants don’t cause neoliberal trade deals, corrupt corporatism, crony capitalism, plutocratic concentration of wealth and power, growing inequality, decreasing economic mobility, shrinking middle class, etc. As for minorities being as ignorant as whites, well, that is what equality means in America where everyone gets the same indoctrination, as many in the ruling elite (through lobbyist organizations, think tanks, funding of college programs, astroturf, etc) have been pushing genetic determinism and social darwinism for the past century.

    • ‘Debates’ like that are plain depressing. Identity politics has a way of sucking the soul dry. Meanwhile, in the real world, people of all varieites are suffering from poverty, unemployment, incarceration, etc.

    • Actually, crime is probably way overreported in major cities. I’ve written about this before.

      Part of the problem is that we don’t have good data for rural areas. The FBI can’t force local governments to give them crime data and for whatever reason many rural areas choose not to share their crime data. Major cities, on the other hand, not only share their crime data but tend to keep meticulous records because they can afford to do so.

      Plus, in major cities, the police are never far away and there tend to be plenty of people around to be potential witnesses. It’s much harder for crime to go unnoticed and unreported in major cities.

  10. I don’t know if it’s inherently safer, but fwiw Newark NJ, companies used to build raised bridges between buildings because it was too dangerous for employees to just use the sidewalk. As far as I know that’s no longer the case.

    The south does have more violent crime it seems compared, including the rural south, even compared to my rural mid Atlantic home.

    • There is massive amount of data showing the South is more violent. It’s even worse in the rural areas. It’s not just the high gun ownership. The Midwest has high gun ownership and lower violence. There are more homicides in the South but also more accidental deaths, including accidental shootings. Southerners are simply a death-prone people, even more likely to be in car accidents, probably because they are more likely to drink and drive.

      Even work-related accidents and deaths are higher in the South and this would relate not just to being accident-prone but because regulatory laws protecting workers are so weak in that region. This indicates a shared careless attitude toward human life, specifically that of specific classes and races. In the South, the lives of the poor have always been cheap. That is literally the case, in that workers are paid far less in the South compared to the North. Still, this isn’t just about the economic value but also the moral and social value of human life.

      They are also an aggressive people, more likely to start fights over what would be perceived as minor issues in the North. Research has shown that Southerners are more likely to perceive as a personal attack on their honor when someone bumps into them. Some of this is simply culture. Between the population of Scots-Irish and the history of slavery, there is an entrenched worldview of violence. The honor culture aspect seems to be particularly important. This goes along with a hierarchical society with high rates of poverty, inequality, economic segregation, and of course a very old racial order.

      Even I felt more aggressive when I lived in the South. There is a constant background tension. Southerners, as compared to Midwesterners, live much more divided lives. The rich live in entirely different worlds. Around here, the rich and the poor, black and whites, will tend to go to the same schools. The Midwest doesn’t have the same kind of extensive private school system as the South. There is less obvious segregation, although racial and class issues do play out in other ways.

      We Midwesterners are of Northern European stock. We prefer to repress our emotions and be affable. This also relates to why racism is different in the North, more subtle. Blacks and whites in the South are more likely to call each other bigoted names, get in fights, and sometimes kill each other. The racial conflict and oppression in the North, however, would more involve hiring biases, residential patterns, and arrest disparities.

      Northerners, or at least Midwesterners, try to avoid overt strife. Not that subtle prejudices are better. But at least we kill each other less. Here in Iowa City, we have one of the highest racial disparities in drug arrests. So, it does suck to be black here in that aspect. Yet at the same time, those police arresting blacks here are less likely to kill blacks in the process. The local police will treat blacks more respectfully and non-violently as they arrest them at higher rates. We are a kindly people.

  11. CA is horrible. They like to pretend that they are so progressive because it fits their self narrative but they are incredibly hypocritical.

    • California is an unusual place. It’s not normal in any kind of way.

      I would argue that they are ‘progressive’ in the old school sense. Historically speaking, there has never been any conflict between progressivism and what you judge as hypocrisy.

      Manifest Destiny was progressive. Eugenics was progressive. The British Empire was progressive. The Ku Klux Klan was progressive.

  12. “I think it’s hard to be progressive when you are flooded with minority immigrants. There’s sometimes crime and always unfamiliarity. Even with the model minority.”

    • Immigrants in the US have lower crime rates than the US-born population. Much of the progressive tradition in the US came from immigrants. The German immigrants in particular brought with them their highly progressive idealism. And immigrants have always been the strongest believers in and defenders of the American Dream.

    • Mao Cheng Ji says:
      May 9, 2017 at 3:29 pm GMT
      Seeing how this ‘indicator’ is equal for boys and girls at the age of nine and then diverges, I don’t think it leaves any doubt whatsoever that the difference is of a purely environmental nature.

      AP says:
      May 9, 2017 at 4:17 pm GMT
      @Mao Cheng Ji
      So in your world maturation is purely environmental?

      Mao Cheng Ji says:
      May 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm GMT
      Depends on what you mean by ‘maturation’. The mental state, yes, definitely. Say, you’re locked in a dark sound-proof closet at the age of 9 and kept there for 10 years. When they let out, what kind of ‘maturation’ will you have?

      Daniel Chieh says:
      May 9, 2017 at 10:43 pm GMT
      @Mao Cheng Ji
      AP’s point, which is valid, is that age differences do not necessarily indicate a lack of innate difference. For example, male muscular hypertrophy doesn’t happen until later in age as well, but it doesn’t mean that its purely environmental.

      Mao Cheng Ji says:
      May 10, 2017 at 5:58 am GMT • 100 Words
      @Daniel Chieh

      That’s not the issue. Anything is possible of course, but it seems clear that the idea that ability to solve logical puzzles (so-called ‘intelligence’) is gender-dependent suffers a big blow from this chart. Boys and girls are equally capable, and then, as socially-constructed gender roles kick in, it starts diverging. That’s what I see on this chart, anyway. Obviously doctrinaires will insist on the doctrinal explanation…

      Daniel Chieh says:
      May 10, 2017 at 2:28 pm GMT • 100 Words
      @Mao Cheng Ji
      And there’s absolutely no way that “socially constructed gender roles” would later also environmentally select for those who genetically have such skills. I mean, genetic co-evolution with environment is completely impossible.

      Yeah, do run with that idea.

      At any rate, brains don’t stop developing and specializing significantly until at least twelve, then at a lesser rate into early adulthood. There’s a lot of likelihood of sexual differentiation later in age, as I indicated with muscle hypertrophy.

      Biology usually doesn’t develop the same when subjected to different chemicals or hormones. I mean, even a small but steady supply of lead causes significant divergences, why wouldn’t larger and massive quantities of hormones?

      Mao Cheng Ji says:
      May 10, 2017 at 4:15 pm GMT • 100 Words
      @Daniel Chieh

      I suppose a physical damage (a concussion) might make it more difficult to solve puzzles. A chemical that kills brain cells – sure. But hormones? I mean, sure, if they make you preoccupied with something else, not caring about tests. But that would be something different, no? It wouldn’t look like this chart.

      Daniel Chieh says:
      May 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT • 200 Words
      @Mao Cheng Ji
      Hormones directly affect neural chemicals which affect not only immediate behavior, but also long term changes, much as they can cause muscular hypertrophy. For example, elevated exposure to Provigil not only causes immediate and increased wakefulness and focus, but in the long time, may also downregulate states needed for creativity.

      On hormones themselves, exposure to oxytocin – very central to women – creates feelings of bonding and love – perhaps unpleasantly, its generated by stretching of vagina, such that feelings of fondness could appear both for birthing babies and being regularly raped by the same man. Its a good example of how its a simple hormones with powerful effects, as well as unintended side effects. Long term exposure to more or less testosterone can have similar effects.

      Biology isn’t like a computer program that creates specific functions just for one role – its just all hacked together so as long as it mostly works. So, for example, your stomach uses strong acid to slightly break down food and to kill bacteria, even though it can also cause a host of other problems. Same thing goes for hormones, so as long as it slightly promotes more reproduction, it’ll become an advantageous mutation(and humans are indeed sexually dimorphic). And social preferences do, pretty quickly, become biologically favorable as well – humans have become less violent, for example, partly because we’ve domesticated ourselves much as we have bred for less violent dogs, cattle, etc.

      Its often been explained that the human brain is kind of bolted together, with more novel and rational elements slapped on top of more “primitive” elements. It is so. And that’s also why the notion of identical brains(or anything else) is pretty silly.

      Mao Cheng Ji says:
      May 10, 2017 at 6:19 pm GMT • 100 Words
      @Daniel Chieh
      The issue is not of ‘identical brains’. The issue is the doctrine that a female brain is, on average, less ‘intelligent’ than a male brain.

      The chart shows that in Nigeria a 9 year-old female brain is, on average, just as ‘intelligent’ as a 9 year-old male brain.

      [Shouldn’t this be treated as a very significant, very meaningful finding (by those who are into these things)?]

      The subsequent divergence could be easily attributed to socially constructed (albeit, I agree, prompted by biology) gender roles. This, imo, is the strongest hypothesis by far (fine, I take back my “no doubt whatsoever” @1). Instead, you keep insisting that the divergence is probably caused by hormones. Is this a fair description of our discussion so far?

  13. Honestly, I know the alt right runs on nostalgia for the good old days where things were nice and everyone was nice and white, but looking at actual photos from the old era (as opposed to idealized paintings) don’t really paint an image of the old days being “nicer” at least going by city-scape and the streets. If anything, streets are on average “nicer” now. The only thing is that there were less nonwhites walking the streets

    • From the colonial era to the early 20th century, American communities were in far worse conditions.

      Streets were dirtier and trashier. Infrastructure was limited and unsafe. Buildings weren’t usually maintained well. Violent crime rates were high while effective policing was rare. Average intelligence was low and education was uncommon. And most people were unhealthy with little medical and dental care, which led to shorter lives.

      That was during a time when minorities were smaller in number. Minorities also had lower violent crime rates than whites in the 19th century, at least according to the limited data we have for particular areas. This was true in the rural South where almost all the violent crime was committed by whites. And that is using data that would have been racially biased against blacks.

  14. I like San Francisco’s natural scenery and if the people weren’t so shitty and the economy wasn’t so awful I’d love to move there. It’s just that the politics and people ruin the place for me

    • The West Coast hasn’t been overly attractive to me. I’ve seen different parts of Oregon and California. What stood out to me is that there is a lot of overpopulation, crowded cities, inequality, and segregation.

      Even the natural scenery isn’t strongly appealing. I’ve spent my life in the Eastern half of North America and it’s what I like. There is some lushness in areas of the East Coast, but there is nothing like the pervasive lushness of the Midwest and Upper South.

      The natural scenery of much of the East Coast, particularly California, is more similar to the Southwest and Deep South. I also dislike the starkness of the contrast of terrain, with a desert on one side of a mountain and forests on the other side. That kind of stark contrast is never seen in the Midwest, just lushness on and on and on.

      It’s what I’m used to. It’s also why I don’t prefer South Carolina and Florida but love North Carolina and Kentucky.

    • I’m always impressed by the immense amount of data and research that racists have to ignore and dismiss in order to defend racism. They could start by reading more from the authors of that Vox article: Eric Turkheimer, Kathryn Paige Harden, and Richard E. Nisbett.

    • That is what I was thinking.

      There are extremely few Westerners on the political left or among the (intellectual) elite who go so far as to offer nothing but criticism of Western civilization and praise everything non-Western. I suppose a tiny fraction of a percentage of such people exist, but they certainly aren’t representative of the political left. Nor are many college students purity-seeking ideologues. I also doubt that most Westerners have any less national loyalty and cultural confidence than other people in the world.

      This article is mostly fantasyland rhetoric. The author would do better to offer a genuinely moderate view without the mindless, ignorant caricatures. Most Westerners are probably more moderate on such issues than this author.

      The criticisms offered not just by elites but by average Westerners are an expression of what they love and want to defend. The majority of Americans perceive severe problems in our society, in our economy, and in our political system. But it would take a complete idiot to conclude that this means most Americans want to destroy the United States or to transform it into some non-Western utopia. They simply don’t want to live in a shitty country.

      It is particularly pathetic to project this common attitude onto radical leftists and out-of-touch elitists. The reality is that this author is closer to being radical and out-of-touch than the average American offering such criticisms. That is what can’t be acknowledged. To criticize is the most American thing possible. Without the American propensity to disagreement, often with their own government and society, there wouldn’t have been such things as an American Revolution and Civil War, along with centuries of protest movements.

      Criticism of society is an American tradition. Such critical attitudes go far beyond a single segment of our society, that is for sure. It is often referred to in terms of the jeremiad. This form of expression was popular among the Puritans and Quakers, American Revolutionaries and Founding Fathers, Abolitionists and Prohibitionists, Klansmen and Civil Rights activists. It was given full voice in the 20th century through MLK’s speeches.

      But in the most recent history, it has been those on the political right who have been the loudest voices of complaint, declinism, and doomsaying. That is how Trump got elected president. There are plenty of voices on the left these days that use the jeremiad, although they aren’t given as big of a platform on corporate media and within the two-party system. Sanders, unlike Trump, was initially silenced and then his campaign blocked.

      The American Jeremiad
      by Sacvan Bercovitch

      Prodigal Nation: Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11
      by Andrew R. Murphy

      From Jeremiad to Jihad: Religion, Violence, and America
      ed. by John D. Carlson & Jonathan H. Ebel

      Beyond a Christian Commonwealth: The Protestant Quarrel with the American Republic, 1830-1860
      by Mark Y. Hanley

      The Political Jeremiad Of Henry Adams: Inside American Politics, 1865-1914
      by Edgardo Medeiros da Silva

      Modern Jeremiahs: Contemporary Visions of American Decline Kindle Edition
      by Mark Stephen Jendrysik

      Origins of the African American Jeremiad: The Rhetorical Strategies of Social Protest and Activism, 1760–1861
      by Willie J., Jr. Harrell

      African American Jeremiad Rev: Appeals For Justice In America
      by David Howard-Pitney

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